From a 20D to a 5D Mark III

Started Aug 20, 2012 | Discussions thread
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drpundit
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From a 20D to a 5D Mark III
Aug 20, 2012

After using a Canon EOS 20D (20D) since it first came out, I upgraded to an EOS 5D Mark III (5D) a few days ago. I've had the chance to test the new body out over the past few days and here are some of my thoughts. I hope this helps someone with a 5–10 year-old body who is sitting on the fence (as I was!) about upgrading to a newer body such as the 5D.

1. The 5D looks a lot more complicated than the 20D––both in terms of buttons on the body and number of things you can tweak on the menu system. But once you hold it in your hands, you'll realize that it all feels extremely familiar, and I was able to get up and running right away.

2. While everything felt very familiar, the 5D is much more responsive in every noticeable way. And its viewfinder and display on the back are so much larger and brighter. The display is readable and clear even in bright sunlight.

3. The 5D is noticeably heavier, but it feels good to hold. The outside feels more rounded and rubberized than the 20D, which comparatively feels "plasticey." (Which makes little sense since it's made of metal too!)

4. There's a new button to prevent the mode dial from accidentally shifting, which is less annoying in practice than I imagined it would be. Ironically enough, I don't think I've once been on the wrong mode on the 20D in some 8 years of use, and I was accidentally on M instead of Av for a portion of my shooting with the 5D today. Silly me.

5. I think I'm going to have to replace my everyday walk-around lens (an EF 24–70 f/2.8L) with a longer one from my kit (EF 70–200 f/2.8L I) since I'm starting to miss its reach on the 5D. Then again, I did enjoy some wider shots which I've never been able to do before, so now I am not sure what I'm going to do.

6. I have not attempted any video yet, and I'm struggling a little with the RAW files that come out of the 5D. Canon Digital Photo Professional's output looks really good (I hadn't used it before) and quite a bit sharper out of the box than Adobe Camera Raw. But it doesn't fit with the Adobe Bridge –> Photoshop work-flow I've been using for years.

7. Still figuring out a good work-flow, but from my early tests, the pictures from the 5D look a lot more vivid than the 20D. And the new body handles a wider range of lighting scenarios with less fiddling on my part.

8. But I probably should be fiddling more. I got all excited about the Auto ISO capabilities on the 5D, and enabled it up to ISO 25600––telling it to not let my shooting speed ever fall below 1/60 s. Earlier this evening, many of my shots from a dimly lit bar ended up being super (chroma) noisy because the camera kept picking ungodly high ISOs. i should be paying more attention to things and go back to dialing it in manually until I get the hang of things.

8. Even though the RAW files from the 5D are about 4 times as large (ca. 33 MB vs. ca. 8MB), the transfers from the camera to the computer seemed faster on the 5D. Though this file size increase means I need to soon get an external hard drive to augment the not-particularly-large SSD drives on my laptops.

Overall, my impression is that while a lot has refined over these past 5–10 years, a lot has stayed the same. Everything is faster and the technology allows you to do a bit more. I actually enjoy fiddling with all the new buttons and settings, but I've already managed to lose some shots because more settings means more opportunities for me to screw up.

So I need to read the manual some more. And practice a lot!

 drpundit's gear list:drpundit's gear list
Canon EOS 20D Canon EOS 5D Mark III Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM +1 more
Canon EOS 20D Canon EOS 5D Canon EOS 5D Mark III
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